Beacons for Public Engagement is a national £9.2m initiative comprising six Beacons, one of which is based in the North East. Beacons are collaborative centres consisting of a number of higher education institutions and partnership organisations. They will assist staff and students in the universities to engage with the public, fostering a change of culture in the universities. The Beacons initiative believes that public engagement adds an extra dimension to research, enriching it, broadening attitudes and ensuring all research is relevant.

The Beacon in the North East (iKnow) involves Newcastle and Durham Universities working with the International Centre for Life, and has been established to enable people to have the chance to get involved in research that is taking place in both Universities. As much of the work carried out by researchers has a direct impact on society, it is important for a broad spectrum of the public to access the knowledge which is generated and also to let the public have their say.

iKnow will also help to redefine what it means to be a University in the 21st century, placing public interaction and social considerations at the forefront of University staff and student roles. Focusing on two of the key themes of our Science City, ageing and environment, new research questions will be generated through a collaboration between experts and citizens, using new information and communications technologies to reach members of our society that have not had the opportunity to be involved with University research before.

It is hoped that this will bring a change to institutions by creating a sense of shared ownership, of two-way learning, and a process of continuous reflection and improvement for a model of public engagement and social innovation.

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Further Information

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Newcastle University
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BBC Science & Nature
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International Centre for Life
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